Sunday, February 3, 2019

It's About More Than Just the Hit

For the first time maybe ever, I opened a hobby box of cards without being overly concerned about what my hit would be. There's 1 autograph or relic card guaranteed in a hobby box of 2019 Topps Series, but it's usually a standard jersey relic which isn't too exciting. 

This forces me to appreciate every other card I pull to make up for the boring hit, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to enjoy the entire box, not just the 1 hit.

In fact, I'll show the hit right away so I can move on to the rest of the box and the awesome photos, in particular. It's a black jersey swatch of Yoan Moncada, part of the Major League Materials set that Topps features every year. The card is already on eBay. Moving on.

This is what it looks like when more attention is paid towards the photos featured across a Flagship set. Thankfully, I saw way fewer "traditional" and "boring" pictures and more exciting cards like the 2 above, a couple of my favorites. 

These pictures, especially the Segura, could even pass for Stadium Club photos. Seeing them in Series 1 is pretty refreshing since I've gotten so used to Topps using the same style of images on almost every single card.

Why chase down throwback uniform variations in other sets when Topps features them in Flagship as base cards? Seriously, it's awesome to see all these old-school uniforms, especially when so many of them feature the classic black and gold Pirates uniform and cap. 

The Josh Harrison and Adam Engel cards also feature awesome action shots, so I'm getting 2 awesome things in 1 card as far as I'm concerned.

Can we talk, for a minute, about how awesome this years' Future Stars cards look? I feel like I'm back in the late 1980s with how colorful and fun the rainbow letters are, and there are no irritating pixels present to take away from the design (I'm talking about you, 2018 Topps).

Not to mention, Topps chose the best possible photos to include on these 2 Future Stars cards. The bright and bold jerseys match perfectly with the rainbow words at the top of each card.

Also, look what we have for team cards this year; gorgeous ballpark shots encapsulating the beauty of the MLB ballparks with just one photo. While I'm going to do my best to avoid the eventual inclusion of Tropicana Field, these 4 stunning ballparks, especially Bush Stadium, look incredible and replace the previous attempt at "team" cards that never failed to disappoint me.

I feel like Topps definitely took a page from the success of 2018 Topps Big League when creating this years' Flagship set. If Topps isn't going to go back to the standard team cards that were featured for decades than these ballpark cards are the next best thing.

I don't think I've ever talked about base cards in a box recap post for that long. Thank you, 2019 Topps.

The insert cards in 2019 Topps Series 1 are okay, though there are a few sets that I could definitely do without. I don't need to see any more Baseball cards of another Baseball card, especially when all they do is recreate a card we've seen a dozen times or promote the Topps Now set. 

Sure, these cards are a couple of PC hits, but I could definitely do without them.

I recently featured a card just like this on my top 5 cards post of Mariano Rivera. It's a pretty epic tribute for when Rivera broke Trevor Hoffman's record and became the all-time saves leader.

As for the insert set, it's designed to pay tribute to 150 years of professional Baseball, hence why it's called 150 Years of Professional Baseball. It's split up into 3 equal parts; greatest moments, greatest players, and greatest seasons. 

The insert set checklist also consists of 150 cards which seems incredibly excessive even given Topps' desire to pay tribute to 150 years of pro Baseball. It's also been announced that this set will carry over into Series 2, so get ready for, likely, another 150 of these cards that fall at 1:7 hobby packs.

This year, Topps is also honoring the 1984 Topps set throughout Series 1, 2, Chrome, and Update. Out of the 3 sets they've done so far ('87, '83, and '84), the 1984 design excites me the most in terms of Topps recreating it. Don't ask me why, but I don't think Topps will burn me out on 1984 like they've done with '87 and '83 in previous years.

While I'm still not too crazy about the rainbow foil parallels, I must say that they look multitudes better than they have in previous years. I used to detest them, especially in 2017 Topps, but not anymore. Now, they almost look like previews of what 2019 Topps Chrome will look like.

Surprisingly, the gold parallels in 2019 Topps (1:5 packs) are more common than the boring 150th Anniversary parallels (1:6 packs which I've neglected to showcase in today's post). 

Apparently, the odds are pretty difficult in hobby jumbo for any type of parallel, yet I came across 5 in my standard hobby box, and the one not shown is James McCann. Granted, I didn't hit any huge names besides Lindor, but if nothing else, the parallels improved this year as well. 

I didn't understand the need for the swirls on last years' parallel designs in both Flagship and Chrome. I still don't comprehend why Topps didn't opt for more standard parallels cards, and while the "disco" parallels from 2019 aren't ideal, like the rest of the set, they're certainly an improvement from years past.

Because SP image variations were excluded entirely from hobby jumbo boxes, I ended up with 2 in my standard hobby box though I don't think I could've landed 2 players that I have less interest in. This is the only part of this years' set that I don't like all that much since there are many examples of base cards with more exciting pictures than the ones featured on these rare SPs.

Breaking away from the traditional parallels that we usually see, Topps Flagship features unique numbered cards such as Mother's Day Pink, Independence Day, and the Memorial Day camo parallels, one of which I landed in my box break.

Numbered 8/25, I didn't end up with a huge name, but a low-numbered rookie card is a low-numbered rookie card nevertheless. Daniel Ponce De Leon, especially as a member of the Cardinals, looks a lot like former Red Sox relief pitcher, Joe Kelly.

One of the coolest insert sets in 2019 Topps Series 1 is the Evolution set, highlighting change from past to present-day and featuring subjects like uniforms, equipment, and ballparks. On the front of this card is Ebbets Field where the Brooklyn Dodgers played before moving to Los Angeles. On the back is a pitcher of Dodger Stadium, their current home.

However, the 150 years stamp on the front makes this an insert parallel since clearly, a small, barely noticeable stamp is all that is needed for an insert parallel nowadays. Regardless, the 150 years stamp means the card is numbered out of 150 on the back, and although I don't remember the exact pack odds, I know these cards are pretty hard to come by.

This Eddie Rosario card might be one of my favorite cards from the entire hobby box break, a title I don't usually award to a base card. I may like it even more than the Moncada relic because of how refreshing it is to see creative photos featured in Flagship. 

Move over standard jersey relics, I'm starting to prefer fun photography over the same jersey swatches.

A few years ago, you would never see a card like this in a Flagship set. Last year, a card like this would be a short-print variation card. Now, in 2019 Topps, cards just like the Rosario card above are featured continuously throughout the set as base cards, not SPs.

It's awesome to see all of these improvements, especially since the production went up this year, meaning more base cards and fewer inserts per pack.

While 2019 Topps Series 1 is far from perfect, I can definitely tell that Topps has worked to improve the Flagship set in numerous ways, from better photos, an improved design for parallels, and, of course, an exciting new base set, and as long as Topps continues to produce Flagship sets at this level, we won't have to see another 2016 Topps set ever again.

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